Witness is a card game tournament that asks what our best future looks like, and what it will be like to live there.
We don’t need to tell you about the threats facing our society today- you see the news. You also don’t need us to tell you that the way governments and economies now work aren’t necessarily offering the best answer to these dangers.
Responses to these dangers can range from paralytic doom mongering, to blithe optimism that somehow technology will save us. Science fiction is good at presenting alternatives, saying “Things don’t have to be this way”. It can show us cultures and civilisations from other times and places, inviting us to imagine a better world. But these alternatives can feel like castles in the sky- post scarcity utopias where material problems are magicked away by new technology, and often they don’t have to deal with economic and geopolitical realities.
This is why the setting of Witness exists- to find a path towards real hope, grounded in real solutions. Witness is a floating habitat made up of interconnected arcologies, or “Distrikts”, each with their own ideologies and ways of doing things.
It is a place that allows for cultures that don’t rely on the received economic and political wisdom of today. However, they are also constrained by realistic technology, real world environmental and economic challenges, and the fact that they must co-exists alongside people and cultures who may not share their values.
Witness is a setting for storytellers and artists to work in and add to, a sandbox for playing with new ideas. More than that, it is an opportunity to imagine your life and work within these potential futures.
Would you be a hi-tech monk operating vast 3D printers in a city-wide monastery? Or a creative, crowdfunding for ambitious public works projects in a giant anarchist art collective? Or perhaps you just want to live in the woods, farming your own food, generating your own electricity.
Witness lets you ask what that might be like, but also, how it might happen.
Sometimes it can be useful to have a structure to discuss your ideas, and that is why we devised the Witness card game.
In Witness, each distrikt has a deck of cards including a range of policies and tools reflecting that distrikt’s philosophy. Throughout the game you are faced with various challenges and crises, and you use your deck, either collaboratively or competitively with other players, or by yourself, to respond. Use a single distrikt’s deck to show how one school of thought might succeed or fail, or combine decks to create your own future utopia.
As well as being an engaging and fun game, we also want the Witness card game to serve as a springboard and space for discussion. As you play Witness you will think and talk about how society should deal with challenges ranging from environmental catastrophe to pandemics, to how new technologies will affect us all.
To launch the Witness card game we will be holding a series of online and in-person tournaments and events over the coming months to show what Witness can do, and what kinds of discussions and ideas can come out of it. We want you to take part.
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